With a dazzling hilltop castle as her crown and the emerald-green Ljubljanica River at her feet, Ljubljana is a princess in size (petite). But her pint size conceals a wealth of culture, sights, activities and good old-fashioned fun that would be the envy of a city twice her extent. And best of all, everything is within such easy reach – a mere stroll or cycle away.
The princess, whose name almost means ‘beloved’ (ljubljena) in Slovene, is also a working girl. As the country’s political, economic and cultural capital, this is where virtually everything of national importance begins, ends or is taking place. Of course that might not be immediately apparent in spring and summer, when café tables spill into the narrow streets of the Old Town and street musicians and actors entertain passers-by in Prešernov trg and on the little bridges spanning the Ljubljanica River.
Ljubljana’s buzzing student community – there are some 56, 650 students attending Ljubljana University’s 20 faculties, three art academies and three university colleges – and alternative-lifestyle centre at Metelkova are added bonuses. Admittedly, the city may lack the grandeur or big-ticket attractions of, say, Prague or Budapest, but the great museums and galleries, atmospheric bars and varied, accessible nightlife make it a wonderful, relaxed place to visit and stay awhile – perhaps longer than you had planned.
Best places to stay in Ljubljana
Slovenia - Ljubljana (Chapter)
Ljubljana is one of Europe’s greenest and most liveable capitals. In summer, cafes set up terrace seating along the Ljubljanica River, lending the feel of a perpetual street party. Jože Plečnik graced Ljubljana with elegant, early-modern, minimalist architecture, and a large student population supports an active clubbing and cultural scene.
Ljubljana destination guides
Walking in the Julian Alps
A superb walk through the Julian Alps of Slovenia with an option to ascend Mt Triglav, Slovenia's highest mountain
Slovenia Cycle Adventure
Discover the magical highlights of Slovenia by bike